Publisher’s Weekly Article – POD by Calvin Reid

I came across an article this weekend in Publisher’s Weekly about the whole POD printing process and how it is steadily becoming a real factor with publishers. Trawl through most POD self-publisher/subsidy publishers on the Internet and within a page or two of their sites they will pretty quickly expouse the “POD publishers are putting the fear of God into the traditional publishing industry”. I don’t happen to subscribe to this point of view, it’s simply scare tactics on the part of the POD/subsidy publishers. Too many of them will ply the line that you don’t stand a chance of getting published with a traditional/commercial publisher. Before I go on with this thread of thought, here is my emailed reply to Calvin Reid of Publisher’s Weekly.

This is a tremendous article, Calvin. I recently listened to a podcast interview with CEO Kirby Best from Lightning Source recorded about 18 months ago. Even then he was adamant, that unless you wanted to take out a magnifying glass, it was virtually impossible to tell any difference with the offset printed book and the pod version. It’s no longer an issue of quality but simply costing. It’s difficult to know at this stage, even with other large pod printers starting to emerge, whether the overall pod print cost can get close enough to the offset costs. But as your article pointed out and the guys interviewed, it will never have to match the offset price because of the physical storage costs that go with offset printing. It seems to me at the moment, publishing houses who had their backs against the wall over the past five years, now see a real chance of survival, being able to re-issue back catalogue title they could previously never have afforded, and more importantly can invest in authors on their books with a smaller sales projection. I reckon when the 4 or 5 major publishing houses who seem to control most of the global market break ranks and properly embrace POD, the floodgates will really open.
Thanks again,

Mick Rooney

If you want to read the full article by Calvin, here is the link,

Now, back to my thread of thought. We’re not all doomed and going to die if we choose to follow the traditional path of publishing our work as writers if we submit to a literary agency or go direct and try Random House, Collins Harvill, Bloomsbury or whoever we find suitable after carefully reading the Writers & Artists Yearbook.

Therein is the first hurdle. You can submit direct to a publishers, or first try to get an established literary agent to take you on, and with an agent it is you they are taking on rather than just the book. Most published writers will be honest and tell you that it took them as long to get an agent to take them on as it did to finally get that elusive publishing contract. Like publishers, agents don’t like authors sending out multiple submissions and letters of query, and most writing handbooks on the industry would strongly advise that you make it clear that you are courting other agencies/publishers at the same time. Sadly like old dusty, antiquated books on a shelf, the publishing world still has its hands firmly gripped on very old, dare I say, elitist ideas of their industry and etiquette. This process, if successful, can take many months at best, in reality, it can take many years of perseverance and rejection. The established editors and agents in the industry will tell you that if you are a good enough writer and persevere, eventually an agent/publisher will invest and take you on. I wholeheartedly agree with this view. But there is a caveat, coming in the form of a but…and here it is…

But many publisher’s still live in the world of manual snail mail. Submissions if unsolicited without an agent cost the writer money to post, envelopes, nice folders, return postage, after all if you are submitting to a professional publisher, you want to make a proper, professional submission. If you follow the etiquette, it is one publisher at a time. It could be two months per publisher, with no guarantees at the end. Last time I went on the submission journey, I think it cost me not far off 1000 euro, about 1300 dollars in postage, print costs, folders etc and about 1 and half years of my life. In that time, I think I collected just 11 rejection letters! That’s too much money and too few no’s for that length of time.

I suppose what I am saying is that had I went down the POD/Subsidy path, I could have been published, learned a lot about the process, and ultimately discovered if that great american novel really was a stinker. As it happens, I went down the self-publishing road and set up my own publishing imprint and went on to publish five books. I learned a hell of a lot, probably more you might say than had I got that Random House contract!

I’m in the final stages of my next book and I decided months ago that I was giving the POD/subsidy option a very big hug. Thank you Mr Kirby Best!

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